Amritsar

History & Culture

Amritsar, literally a Pool of Nectar, derives its name from Amrit Sarovar, the holy tank that surrounds the fabulous Golden Temple. First time visitors to Amritsar could be forgiven for the impression that Amritsar is like any other small town in northern India. But Amritsar stands head and shoulders above any other city, its status elevated and sanctified by the presence of the venerable Golden Temple. Located in the heart of Amritsar, the temple complex is surrounded by a maze of narrow lanes, or katras, that has one of the busiest markets in India. But the Golden Temple is a serene presence, radiating a calm that makes people bow their heads in reverence.

The four gates of the Golden Temple open outside to the markets flourishing under the blessings of the Harmandir Sahib. Being the biggest trading centre in the northern India, Amritsar has many famous Katras or Bazaars (markets) all the around the Golden Temple. The narrow winding lances of Katras are like maize, with very little sunshine penetrating them. At some places the lanes are extremely narrow. But one is struck by the surfeit of color in these lanes- of colorful Parandas (Threads worn by women in their plait) or bangles. There are so many of them, it seems one is walking through a rainbow. The magic of colors- red, purple, green, yellow, blue, golden- overpowers ones senses.

Origin

The Origin of the city of Amritsar lies hidden in the mists of time due to the scanty evidence available in its early history. On the development of the city, the generally accepted view is based on the Amritsar District Gazetteers, the authoritative works of reference on local history.

The various Opinions that the land was granted by emperor Akbar to Guru Amar Das (later on transferred to Guru Ram Das), or was acquired by Guru Ram Das before the grant was actually obtained, or the land was purchased by the Guru from the zamindaar of the village at tung at the instance of Emperor Akbar, or presented by the people of village Sultanwind out of regard and reverence for the Guru are all versions based on popular tradition. There are no documentary evidences to support or contradict these views. But the version regarding the purchase of the land by Guru Ram Das is in keeping with the tradition of Sikh Gurus who never took any land grants from the rulers.

The project was thus executed by Guru Ram Das. First of all a boundary line of the settlement was drawn. The foundation was laid by Guru Ram Das and the village was named Ram Das Pura. Opinions vary on the date of the founding of the city. Probably the foundation was laid in 1573 AD but the popular view is that it was done in 1577.

Early Period

It has been established now that the whole of Amritsar district was a part of the vast area covered under Indus valley Civilization during the early period of history. This civilization developed prior to the Aryans civilization in this region. These evidences for the prevalence of this ancient civilization in this district of Punjab have been furnished by the discovery of certain sites. The important sites pertaining to Indus valley civilization in Amritsar district are as under:-

  1. Vadalol
  2. Chhina
  3. Gharinda
  4. Har

In addition to above, several sites also lie in a row in the Ravi-Beas Doab(bari doab). Even in ancient times, trade was a primary factor in the urban development of societies. The Indus valley civilization also flourished with the growth of trade by overland and sea routes. It has been proved by the discovery of various seals of the ancient sites.

Ever since the discovery of the Indus Civilization, attempts have made to decipher the Indus script. In this respect, many theories have been propounded about the use of the seals, and the language used therein has been taught to be Sanskrit or Dravidian or an ancestors form thereof, depending largely on the initial approach of the scholars concerned. However, it has been now been established that the direction of the writing of Indus script is from right to left. Many effects about Indus civilization will come to light as soon as Indus script is deciphered.

Cultural Hub of Punjab

The city of Amritsar a dazzling showcase of composite culture and secular heritage.It has a proud past ,a glorious present and a promising future.This most important city of Majha has rightly been called the mukut-mani (Jewel of the Crown) of the Punjab. A rich repository of spiritual and national heritage, it has been hailed as the home of all virtues (Sifti Da Ghar) .while praying, every devout Sikh longs to be blessed with a pilgrimage to Amritsar and a holy bath at the Golden Temple (Amritsar Ke Darsan isnan). A visit to Golden Temple is believed to wash off all the sins.

The most dominating asset, however, is its people who are friendly, God-fearing, hospitable, hard working, informal, robust and with a tremendous zest for living. They are fond of good food, good dress and all the external symbols of life.

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